Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rise and Fall

Virginia (and even blue-state Maryland, for that matter) continue their anti-gay crusade, while DC takes the opposite tack.

Mayor Tony Williams signed a bill elevating the director of the office of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender affairs to the mayor's cabinet.

Williams formed the office in 2004, but the D.C. Council didn't pass legislation making it a part of the government last year.

Williams says the cabinet-level position recognizes that the gay community is an important part of the city.

I think this is a mixed bag. It is truly excellent to recognize the city's large gay population and their needs, but I think they could do better by actually doing more and pushing for equality (in terms of marriage, unions, and other economic rights such as inheritance) instead of more of an identity-politics type gesture like this. Here at HHS, we have an Office of Women's Health, an Office of Minority Health, and more, but I wonder how much segregating these offices from the rest of the organization detracts from their effectiveness as opposed to incorporating their missions into EVERY agency and program. But that just shows my bias towards more broad-based government programs.

In all, this is a good move to make for its symbolic value. And it really sticks it to DC and Maryland, which are doing more both legally and symbolically to attack and deny GLBT rights.